I was going through the list of groups and realised that there is not one aimed specifically for those starting out to weave and who are generally too shy to ask questions about things they think we expect them to know. Often newbie questions are overlooked on busy groups so I want this group to welcome anyone who has a question, no matter how trivial they think it might be. We all take it for granted that books explain everything, and that classes do too and forget how we feel when the spotlight is turned on ourselves and we get asked the dreaded question that, no matter how hard we try, we just do not understand.

So, no matter your weaving experience, please feel free to ask your questions, and in turn, I hope you can pass on some of your wisdom to those searching for their own answers.


Posted on Thu, 09/10/2009 - 02:23

Hi Caroline!

Thank you for creating this Weaving 101 group.

I'm sure it will be a excellent resource for beginners.

Have a good day!

Franco Rios

A beginner for the last two years and counting

Posted on Thu, 09/10/2009 - 20:37

Caroline - I just happened to find this website today - and immediately joined "101" - I first sat at a loom 25 years ago or so - a local shop had weaving classes - I wove some scarves, shawls, etc, but never got a loom of my own!  Well, not quite true - I found a small ridged heddle loom at a goodwill, then bought an inkle.  I moved from a large town (450,000) to a very rural (3 miles outside a town of 500) 11 years ago - and about 10 years ago, found a wonderful 8 harness Harrisville.  It became a beautiful piece of furniture, because I never dedicated myself to it.  (I'm embarassed to say, it's had a warp on it for about 5 years.)  I decided over last weekend it was time!  I have started "practicing" with the warp that is on it, and discovered that I put on an extremely long warp!  But I am determined to finish the warp I have on it, then start on a "first" project - either towels or placemats.  So here comes my beginner questions:

-can you explain the different sizes/types of yarn?  8/2?  tencel? 

-what's the best way to learn to read a draft?  (I'm a little confused)

I have Debbie Chandler's book - and I started reading it (again) last night, also a lot of web searching.  Warping:  back to front or front to back?

-I know I'll have plenty more questions......



Posted on Thu, 09/10/2009 - 21:03

I found the chapter in Debbie Chandler's book very helpful for explaining how to read a draft. I weave on a backstrap loom and have no use for those draft charts but Atwater uses them when she talks about backstrap weaving and so I wanted to learn. I like Chandler's way of teaching-she even gives ''homework''!

Posted on Fri, 09/11/2009 - 00:02

hi Sherry, and welcome! Yarn sizes tends to have everyone confused, because each branch of the fibre arts uses a different sizing system, grrrrrr! 

Each fibre was given a different base number from which to calculate the number of yards into which a pound could be spun. The number for a singles cotton is 840, so a number 1 cotton was 840 yards per pound, a number 2 was finer and 840 x 2 etc. When the yarn is plied you have to calculate the thickness so an 8/2 cotton yarn is  2 plies of a number 8 cotton. Unfortunately the powers that be at that time gave different base numbers to each fibre so an 8/2 cotton is not the same size as an 8/2 linen or an 8/2 wool, grrrrrr! There is a newer system in use now in Europe, the Far East and Australia that goes by  a TEX count, which is the same for all fibres, <phew!!> but I don't think its in use in the States, yet.

Fortunately for us, most yarn /manufacturers and sellers give the length of yarn you can expect from a skein or cone of weaving yarn, so we don't have to get too obsessed with the size and length of the yarn we use, unless matching it with something else. I have seen Tencel and Bamboo weaving yarns using the same count system as cotton, but this is probably more for convenience as anything else, because its unlikely they spin up to the exact same size and length as cotton.

For re-learning your skills, as Laverne said, the Chandler book would have to be about the best revision course you could give yourself to get you up to speed on the basics. I've used her warping method for back to front, and it is nice and straightforward, and the way the book is structured, its a weaving course in itself. You should be able to use the warp you have on your loom as a sampler and work through her exercises  on it, which will also give you a chance to learn the quirks of your loom as well as giving you a stock of towels into the next half century.

After that, there are a lot of newer weaving books for 8 shaft looms out there, many put out by Interweave Press. They tend to cover more specialist areas of weaving.  I would suggest you read the book descriptions on the Interweave site, then look the books up on Amazon and see what buyers have said about them and how they have rated them. It should give you a reasonable idea of whether its worth getting the book or not and whether it has any shortcomings. I'm in Australia, so I regularly do this, because books over here are double the price you pay for them and we never see weaving books in the average book store!

Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 21:50

Hi all - I just signed up for this group. The reason is that I am being given a Kessenich 46" loom, 8 shaft and I have no idea how to use it! I have woven on it a couple of times when I've gone over to visit my friend who is giving it to me. I am at this time a rigid heddle weaver, so I understand how to warp etc. I'm really excited to get it, and am looking forward to weaving rugs. But I'm sort of hoping that I'll be able to ask questions here without being laughed at too much, lol!

Thank you ... DJ

Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 22:42

You lucky, lucky girl!

I'm not an 8 shaft weaver, but the learning curve has to be the same as for a 4 shaft loom.

Theres an excellent book written by Debbie Chandler: "Learning to Weave", and she goes through from go to whoa on the basics. Its laid out as classes, so you can work by yourself, and covers everything you need to do to get up and running  including several warping methods, reading drafts, etc. Its written for a 4 shaft loom, but its easy enough to just thread up 4 shafts to start with until you feel confident to try the 8 shaft drafts you see in Handwoven or weaving books.

The biggest difference you are going to notice is the time it takes to warp a project up, and the amount of yarn you will go through. This is nicely timed though! Think of all the woven Christmas cards you can send with little sampler trees etc as you work your way through the Chandler book. and there are lots of little projects you can do on your RH loom to use up the thrums, just to keep your hand in. You are going to have the best of both worlds there!

Posted on Tue, 09/29/2009 - 19:18

I have a difficult time getting myself to warp my loom. I convince myself that I cannot possibly do it and that I'll have made all kinds of mistakes and won't be able to start it.

This is about anxiety, I think, not about the loom which is a 40" Gallinger, a counterbalance. I have successfully woven several times but not enough to get things going ... this next time. Any ideas from anyone else? All suggestions welcome.



Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 00:47

hi egrace, That is some width! Like you say - its more about motivating yourself to do something you probably don't particularly enjoy doing and the confidence to know you are doing it right. I know I hate warping up, and since I use small looms, theres not that much to do in the first place! I am a first class procrastinator when it comes to warping up. i can't bend over so warping up a 4 shaft table loom takes me pretty much a week to do, in little steps.

I read in another thread where someone said she looks at warping up as part of the whole, not as an isolated part of weaving that has to be done before you can get to the pleasurable bit. That makes it easier to see it as less of a chore and as a very important part of the whole creative process.

If you cannot find a weaving tutor close by, I'd be tempted to start with a smaller warp, and a very simple tie up, perhaps for dish cloths or place mats, that sort of thing, and then gradually get wider, and a little bit more complicated with each successive warp. Basically as if you were doing classes with a tutor. Debbie Chandlers"Learning to Weave" book is set out like that, so is the Mary Black classic "Key to Weaving" or "New Key to Weaving" depending on which edition you get. You will make more speed with smaller steps and you can break each project up into what is manageable so you know that you can do it. And give yourself little rewards for each step you achieve.

After doing this for a while, you will have a feel for your loom, and know what you find easier to do. Build on that success! Looms can look, and be intimidating, but basically all they are is a box that you use to tension your warp over leaving you free to manipulate the weft. All the rest is technology, and most of it pretty ancient at that, and you can use as much, or as little of it as you choose.  If you find something does not make life easier, put it aside for later on and concentrate on enjoying what you are doing. The rest will follow as you gain in confidence and experience.

Good luck! keep in touch and let us know how you are going.

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 22:50

I have to learn how to warp a big loom (come Sunday). I've been reading "Warping all by Yourself" by Cay Garrett. It's a good book. Also, I find that when I make a mistake, I don't usually make it twice. It's how we learn, so don't feel bad about making mistakes.


Posted on Thu, 10/01/2009 - 00:06

Theres also a Peggy Osterkamp book on warping, but I think its very hard to get hold of, at least here in Australia it is.

The first time is the scariest because its such a huge learning curve. I probably do it all wrong, but I divide my warp and find the central threads, and work out wards one side at a time. I have health problems that makes bending over the loom very difficult, but I find if I take it in 1 or 2 inch batches I can work through it. It might eventually take a week, but I do get there. Its tedious more than anything, and by the time I am finished, the warp order is imprinted on my memory. Because I am doing it in short bursts, its much easier to spot a mistake and rectify it, so it has its advantages!

The biggest things to worry about is dropping everything at a crucial moment, so make sure your cross is preserved and everything is as secure as possible, and allow yourself enough length in the warp threads so you can move in comfort - you are less likely to drop or lose the warps you are working with.

And most importantly, slow and steady gets you there. If you rush it, you make mistakes, so you are better off having a coffee break if you start to feel frustrated. You can go back to it refreshed. You could even reward yourself with choccie at various stages of completion, or is that not really allowed, hehe?

Good luck!

Posted on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 18:23

I've learned to knit and now want to learn to weave. I just found a 36" loom on craigslist that's reasonably priced. I have no idea what questions to ask so I don't get taken advantage of.  I'm definitely going to order the "Learning to Weave" recommended in earlier comments. Any hints on questions to the seller?

Posted on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 23:12

Much of what we can help you with will depend on the loom you get.

I'm assuming that the loom you are looking at is either a floor loom or one of those larger, bulky older style 4 shaft table looms, in which case you will need to find a stand on which to put it on. Those babies take up a whole lot of space, more than a modern floor loom!

Because of the different ways that looms are built, there really is no one size fits all advice to get you started, as they even all warp up in different ways, let along work the same way once you start weaving.

As a rule of thumb, if it does not collapse for travelling, and is difficult to move, the cheaper it should be!

Try and find out how long the loom has been advertised; the longer - the cheaper, and the harder it will be to move. Its not cheap if you need to rent a truck and 2 men to shift it!

Buyer beware! Vendors have been known to ignore cracked wood, rust, missing bits etc, and it may not be worth anything more than a bit of kindling if it is an old loom. Many vendors are not weavers and have bought looms thinking they can retire on the proceeds of selling it.

Get a brand name and ask in the general weaving section here on Weavo what people think about it, the more opinions the better.

Contact your local weaving Group or Guild; they can not only help you with getting started, lessons, supplies etc, but they may have a loom you can borrow first, to give you a chance to save up for a nearly new modern loom, or else they will know of pre-loved looms for sale that  are worth considering, and where you won't waste your money on something thats sight unseen.

Good luck!

Posted on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 05:57

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I am one of those newbies. Lots of times I feel like I don't even know enough to know what to ask. The more I learn, the more questions I have. I can tie my brain in knots trying to figure things out and I wonder if I will ever learn enough to feel comfortable with it. Weaving has been a passion for me since long before I can remember. I have to keep at it.

Posted on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 07:05

Your best bet is to get hold of one of the old standards in weaving books, and use that as a base to start from. Many of them can now be found at library sales and in the thrift shops - Amazon is too expensive as they actually have a collectable value because of their age, grrrrrrrr!

Mary Black - Key/New Key to Weaving ( 2 different names for different editions - all are good)

Rachel Brown - The Weaving Spinning and Dyeing Book

Shirley Held - Weaving

and John Tovey has written a book who's name escapes me for the moment. There are a few other older books too I have missed. They may not have the glossy photos of the newer books, but they are high on content - more technique for your dollar!

Then if you don't know something or don't understand something, ask away! Some of the older books were also written in older English, and were very hot on calling things by their correct names, something we get a bit slack about now. Weaving hasn't really changed; the techniques are as old as the hills! Its how its presented these days that makes the difference, and all the exciting new yarns on the market to send us into stash acquisition overload.

And of course when there are sites like this with loads of people obsessed with the same things you are, and happy to chat about it 24/7.........................! The fabulous thing is that we all come from various backgrounds in weaving, and many of us are happily exploring new techniques thanks to the forums - the rigid heddle group and the backstrap group have both had WALs and these have covered the basics to more advanced techniques, so dive in and have a go, and enjoy yourself!

Posted on Wed, 12/02/2009 - 12:24

Thank you, what a great group. I haven't been weaving as much lately because I'm having trouble keeping my edges even and didn't know where to turn for help.

I think maybe it has something to do with the yarn being used, it is a heavier weight than my first project, it is also a silk blend, and before I used cotton. 18:2.

Anyway, I have tried everything I can think of to make my edges more uniform and neat, any suggestions? This is only my second project.



Posted on Wed, 12/02/2009 - 13:41

Even edges plague most of us, Milly! No matter how hard you concentrate, one side is better than the other, grrrrr!

You can use something called a temple or stretcher, that holds the cloth in place, when you place it several rows down from where you are weaving. It does have to be moved quite regularly, or it won't do its job. If you don't have one, don't worry. I use a bent paper clip that goes into the cloth a couple of warp threads in from each selvedge, and is tied to the side of the loom. This can be improved by tying to some weight instead, like a couple of metal washers or metal nuts, or fishing weights,  and the weights are then hung over the sides of the loom. The weight will keep the stretcher at a consistent tension and so help maintain an even edge. Its also much easier to move it along the cloth as you weave.

Also, when you are laying the thread in the shed, do you arc it? If you are doing a balanced weave, you need the extra length in the shed to allow the weft to go around the warp threads and lie properly. A bit of practice will soon let you know how much you need to allow for the yarns you are using.

Some weavers will tell you that you NEVER EVER fiddle with the edges as you lay in the shot. Quite a few rigid heddlers and backstrappers do nip the weft at one edge as they give a gentle tug at the other side to straighten the weft, and it may be that this works because of the type of loom and style of weaving they do.

It can also make a difference when you beat the fell with the beater or the rigid heddle. If you beat it in the open shed where you have just laid in the weft, it can bounce out again. If you beat after you change shed, or with the sheds or shafts in neutral, the weft should be gripped by the warp and not have the tendency to go walk-about.

But most of all, don't worry about this! In Saori weaving its the act of weaving that is important, not having precision selvedges.  I think its far more important to enjoy what you are doing, instead of worrying yourself into dreading weaving, as appears to have happened in your case. Remember, its the little mistakes that give hand-weaving its character, and differentiate it from a manufactured piece. In many cultures, it would be presumptious of a weaver to attempt to create a perfect piece, as that is the prerogative of the Creator.

Go back to your loom. I'm sure that once you stop thinking about how crooked your edges are, they will straighten up by themselves! Enjoy what you are doing, and please post photos.

Posted on Thu, 12/10/2009 - 01:19

Hi.  I just drove over 400 miles today to pick up my new to me LeClerc Aristat loom.  It's a 4-harness jack floor loom.  I have no idea how to use it.  Fortunately for me I went with a friend who is a professional weaver and who walked me through the process of choosing.  She will come back and teach me how to warp it and then off I go.  I don't know enough yet to even have a question.  I am excited, though about this new adventure.

Posted on Thu, 12/10/2009 - 01:53

Great! Once you get the hang of it there will be no holding you back!

Do you have any weaving books? Many of them do go through the process of warping up and tying up to the treadles - I worked mine out using the Mary Black "New Key to Weaving" and I'm pretty sure the Debbie Chandler book covers it too. Both those books are good for new weavers; if you can handle the old fashioned format of the Mary Black book, it is the more useful, as she covers far more, but both books are set out as a teach yourself course, so you can work on your own.They are both a worthwhile addition to your weaving library, and often come up on Ebay at reasonable prices.

For yarns: the tension on your loom is far greater than the tension on a table loom or rigid heddle loom, so while you can use knitting yarns for weft, its not strong enough to use as warp when under tension. If you check the advertisers on Weavo like yarns.com and Halcyon yarns, you will get a very good idea of what is available and what prices you can expect to pay. I have dealt with both companies, and many of the others, and they are quick and reliable when it comes to internet ordering ( I'm in Australia), my only problem being which one of them do I choose when I look to place my next order!

All questions are welcome, there is a vast amount of knowledge on this site, and the weaving community is friendly and helpful -  the members here fall into the "wicked enabler" category, they are brilliant!

Posted on Sun, 12/13/2009 - 09:55


Hi All.  It is December 13th and I have 2.5 weeks to fulfill a 2008 new years resolution, to weave something.  I keep buying looms but I keep not weaving anything because I HATE warping a loom.  I promised myself that this year I would get past that.

I am almost there but as usual there is a problem.  I have a Mountain table loam and am concerned that warp is too thick for the beater.  Is that possible?  I am using Lion Brand Homespun to weave a very simple scarf.  Anyone got any ideas?




Posted on Sun, 12/13/2009 - 10:17

hi Joan, I'm not familiar with Lion Brand homespun, as I'm an Aussie, but a quick rule of thumb is whether the yarn you want to use will go through the holes in the heddle easily and without rubbing.

Homespun is a very bulky yarn, and probably much too thick for what you want to do with it - its better off knitted. You should be looking for a yarn that has a 2 or a 3 on its label; that is sport weight, light worsted or double knitting ( DK), for your warp yarn - you could still use your Homespun for the weft.

I don't know what size heddle your loom comes with, but those yarns should not cause too many problems. You could always take your heddle with you to the yarn shop to see what works.

The upside of this is that weaving a scarf on a rigid heddle loom is a very fast project once you are warped up, so the two weeks you have left should give you plenty of time to achieve your resolution.

PS, you are using the direct method of warping? Its very quick and cuts down on all that painful cut and tie process we all love to hate. I'm happy to talk you through it if you haven't done it before.

Posted on Sun, 12/13/2009 - 14:51

Joan, is your Mountain loom a shaft loom or rigid heddle?  If it is a shaft loom, just change the reed to something coarser (it is ok to put two threads - or more in a dent).  If rigid heddle, you may need a different heddle.  You may have the sett too close for a balanced weave, but it is always possible to use something fine (like sewing thread or 20/2 cotton) in the weft, and weave a warp-faced piece.  It changes the look and feel, but can be very elegant.

Laurie Autio

Posted on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 21:59

I agree with DJ,

Grab some acrylic yarn like Vanna's Choice or Red Heart, something relatively smooth not bumpy for a a first piece.

Or go backstrap loom


Bumpy yarn may still present a problem, but you can still adjust for it. Checkout my chenille scarf done on backstrap loom.


Have a good day!

Posted on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 22:48

Hello all!

I am at best a casual weaver - I was given a Cricket for my last birthday and I enjoy it, but it's mostly just another way to play with string. :) Like Milly, I'd like my selvages to look a bit better, but with such a small loom I don't know how the weighting thing would work, - or if it's worth the trouble - especially since the cats will be "helping" along the way.

Joan - I played with some Homespun yarn in the weft - it produced a very nice drapey, textural fabric, and went very quickly. I didn't use it in the warp though, because it wouldn't fit through the heddle. I used some smooth mercerized cotton that's been monopolizing a corner of the stash for the last year or so. I actually am not so fond of homespun for anything but the simplest of knitting on very large needles - the color variation and "wiggle-worm" factor conspire to hide stitches, and the fine ply tends to break under stress. Once made into fabric the thing wears like iron, but it's irritating to work with IMHO. I've actually started in on weaving by grabbing knitting yarns that have given me problems in one form or another - partly to get them out of the stash, partly to see if they have other virtues.